My last two posts have been aimed at authors with some information on Amazon, Google Play, and not alienating readers. This one is going to be a little more of the same; specifically not alienating readers.
Most of us rarely think about the fact that our books are most likely going to be read as ebooks. Sure, we format them as such, but that’s about it. We are screwing up here too. I know I’ve been guilty on a few occasions.
It’s about ereaders and front matter. Last year, I bought a book that I failed to read. I know because it was still on my “To Be Read Shelf”. Yes, I organize my books even on my ereader. I’d purchased it through Nook and it was definitely my type of book, so why hadn’t I read it? I couldn’t remember.
Let me say that I read on a tablet, it’s a 10.1 screen which means I have about 9 inches of reading space. Also, like a lot of people, I need reading glasses. One of the many things I like about ereaders is that I can adjust the font and size. I like to read Palatino 12 pt. On my tablet, this is a great size; plenty of words appear, the letters are nicely spaced, and I can read with or without my reading glasses.
So imagine my shock when I opened the book and began swiping to turn pages and when I looked at the bottom, I was at location 200 and something, but still hadn’t gotten into the book.
The first 1/4 of the entire book was nothing but adverts for the author’s blog, blogs the author follows, a long drawn out piece of history on why he had started writing and why he was writing this book (but there was a separate introduction), and then there were multiple pages of books written by the author or books the author recommended by other authors.
Yes, I really did say the first 1/4 of the book. I was on location 521 of 1877 before I finally started the introduction. At 687, I finally started the first chapter, which was approximately 200 words. I counted. I did not finish the book this time either. I only kept with it that long to see how far into the drivel I was going to have to get before the book I had purchased started.
Do you need front matter? Absolutely. Every publishing author should take advantage of that front section to give the title of the book, the copyright, and maybe a list of other books they have published (I’m finding I like this to be at the back more and more often).
But think about your reader when you are creating that front matter. They bought a book. They bought your book. If they like it, they may want to read your biography, your list of recommended books and blogs to follow, they may even want to sign up for your newsletter… but how are they going to know if they can’t get to the damn book to read it? All that stuff belongs at the back of your book (I can’t even imagine how this translates into a print copy of the book, I almost bought it just to see).
Just another tip to make your readers happy, because happy readers means more readers and increases the likelihood of you selling them more books.
*On a side note, I’m a pretty forgiving reader. I will read stuff that is poorly edited, sometimes even poorly written, but I have some lines and when an author crosses that line, I never buy another book by them again.